The country is suffering from terrible governance but this is not the time to be hopeless and give up on our future.
More than a year into the pandemic, the number of COVID cases remains alarming. Other countries like Taiwan, New Zealand, and Hong Kong have seriously addressed the virus outbreak, and they are now almost back to normal. The main factor that made this possible? Good governance.
In the Philippines, people are mainly relying on the private sector’s initiatives to live through the crisis. From business conglomerates and personalities donating supplies to community pantries providing food for those in need, the responsibility to survive was thrust to the citizens.
This is why it is crucial to have honest, competent, and compassionate leaders. But what we currently have are military officials taking the lead to address a health crisis, absentee and incapable senators, people in positions who sell their integrity, public servants with no political background, and those who enable abuse of human rights.
How do we change this? How do we replace ineffective and corrupt leaders with ones who will genuinely help us and bring positive change?
A single vote makes a difference
In the US, the world witnessed the terrible leadership of former President Donald Trump. For four years, Americans and countries affected by the US’ political decisions suffered under his incompetence.
So, when the 2020 US Elections took place, the world watched in bated breath as they hoped for an effective president to take the position. Associated Press released the voting count of the presidential candidates. While it was clear Joe Biden is winning, the results were fascinating.
In some towns in Massachusetts such as Webster and West Brookfield, Biden won over Trump by seven and 10 votes, respectively. The unbelievably close difference demonstrates how while citizens were hungry for good governance, the electorate remains fiercely polarized. It also highlighted the fact that every single vote counts.
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‘Winnability’ should not be a basis
Popularity appears to be a formula for winning elections here in the country. A pattern emerged when celebrities and personalities such as Tito Sotto (current Senate President), Manny Pacquiao, and Lito Lapid (both senators) started getting elected into position.
In 2016, current President Rodrigo Duterte won 6.6 million more votes than his closest rival. Years later, despite his bloody legacy of the “war on drugs” and ‘efforts’ to address the pandemic, he still received a 91 percent approval rating in September 2020 according to Pulse Asia.
Despite popularity as the common thread running through successful candidates, these should never hinder Filipinos from voting who they believe is capable of leading the country.
Some may think a candidate is “weak” or unable to win as they are not receiving support from powerful groups or pulling off publicity stunts. However, big promises and a flagrant social media presence do not make an effective public official.
Public servants focus on positive actions. They take care of and serve the people—helping them survive calamities, economic crises, pandemics, and more. New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern for instance, quickly responded to the COVID outbreak by closing its borders and implementing a nationwide lockdown.
Here in the country, the ideal national leaders never take pride in the so-called resiliency of Filipinos. Rather, these officials are working to fix the oppressing system, allowing everyone to thrive and live well.
In these times defined by ineffective governance, practicing our right to vote matters the most. After all, we are electing public officials who will lead us to a good future.
Keeping its commitment to celebrate revolutionaries across industries, One Mega Group once again launches The NewPH. Called “The Ballot Cry,” this year’s campaign educates Filipinos and urges them to practice their civic duty to vote.
The NewPH will run until August before the voting registration ends in September. From having esteemed individuals and online personalities share opinions on recent political and social issues, the campaign encourages even Filipino to participate.
Without our voice calling out public officials to be accountable, without our vote that will determine the kind of leaders we will have, then this cycle of corruption, humans rights abuse, and overall incompetency will continue.
Change comes from collective action. As the past year has proven, it takes many hands to lift each other from the mire. It’s time to use those hands to making sure our ballots, our voices count.